by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
Last Shabbos was Shabbos mevorchim, and at my table during seudas Shabbos, I related the following story which I remembered hearing some years ago. Before posting it, I discussed it with one of her grandchildren, who filled me in with some details.
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During WWII, Russia was drafting men whether they were able body or not and Reb Issur Brikman, although he was unable to shoot a rifle, which under normal circumstances would have exempted him, he was drafted anyways. You can’t hold a rifle, he was told; but you are able to place the explosive into the barrel of the canon, and he was drafted into the army. His wife and three young children were left in Tashkent to fend for themselves.
It was a bitter winter and every morning, Reb Yisroel Neveler although he needed crutches to go around, would slowly walk to her apartment, knock on the window pane and ask loudly, “Doba are you alive?”
He would wait for a few seconds until he heard her reply, “Boruch Hashem, mir leibt (we are living).” He would reply, “good” and then continue on his way inquiring by others who were also on their own.
Years later, Mrs. Brikman related, No one can imagine how difficult it was for me during those years, being all alone, raising three young children in a war time. But the fact that someone who walked with difficulty, and even a short distance of a half mile could take him over an half hour to walk, would walk, or better said drag himself, from the other side of the town, and come to my “residence” every day, whether it was a nice day outside or raining or freezing, just to see if we were alive, was uplifting. Seeing that someone was interested in my well-being gave me the strength and determination to forge ahead. He didn’t have to provide food or anything else, his interest was sufficient!
What I took from this story is as follows:
For the past month we are in our homes, hopefully everyone in your family is Boruch Hashem healthy. However, they are numerous families that one or more need a refuah. There are other people, especially the elderly who are all alone.
Yes, there are wonderful acts of chesed being done. I am not just referring to remarkable members of hatzalah and medical professionals that are going beyond the call of duty. There are ordinary people, who are doing anything but ordinary. They are helping those who can’t help themselves, by doing their shopping etc.
To them I applaud. But how about others who because of their age or other reasons are told to stay inside, what can we do? How can we help someone else?
Thinking over this story one sees that even if you are locked in your apartment, you can still inspire someone and uplift their spirits. By picking up the phone and calling them, inquiring how they are doing, or being Menachem avel over the phone, (which may be harder than coming over for a tefilla, as we used to do), helps a lot. So go through your contacts and reach out to someone and lift their spirits.
This Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Iyar, and as is known Iyar is an acronym for the words ani Hashem rofeaicha. In seforim it is brought down one of the differences if one’s healing comes from Hashem or through a doctor. Quite often, when a doctor gives medication, they state that there may be some adverse effect of the medication, but there is no choice. That adverse reaction is a possibility and we in case it does happen, hopefully we will be able to deal with it, while this is a present danger.
However, when the healing comes from Hashem, it is a complete healing with no side effects and lingering concerns.
So our blessing to all of klal YIsroel is that those who are Boruch Hashem healthy should remain healthy. And those who are currently sick, may Hashem heal them in a manner that they return to their former robust health with vigor.
Rabbi Avtzon Is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books om the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bezras Hashem in honor of Beis Iyar, I will send out a practical thought on L’Chatchilla Ariber.